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How Is Xanthan Gum Used In Food Products?

Xanthan gum is used to keep salad dressings mixed.
Xanthan gum helps give ice cream its smooth texture.
Gluten-free bread often contains xanthan gum as an addition to gluten-free flour.
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  • Written By: Allison Richard
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2014
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Xanthan gum is a food additive used to thicken, emulsify, and stabilize water-based foods. It is used in many different types of food, including salad dressings, sauces, condiments, ice creams, and other frozen foods. Many gluten-free baking products also contain it. This additive helps food with oil, like salad dressings, stay mixed; it helps give some foods a smooth texture; and it can help the ingredients in other products bind together.

A polysaccharide gum, or three-chain sugar compound, xanthan gum is created through the fermentation of the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris with glucose and/or sucrose. It is also sometimes called corn sugar. This additive is very stable at a wide variety of temperatures and pH levels.

Xanthan gum was discovered by Allene Rosalind Jeanes at the United States Department of Agriculture. It was approved for use in foods in 1968, after going through rigorous testing for toxicity. In the United States, Canada, Europe, and many other countries, it is considered to be a safe additive. It is very effective in small quantities and usually makes up only 0.5% to 1% of the total ingredients in any given product.

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In salad dressings, sauces, and condiments, this additive helps decrease the separation of oils, keeping the product well mixed while in the jar or bottle. When the container is shaken, the product will thin out, making it easier to pour. This process is called pseudoplasticity. After the product has been poured and is allowed to rest, it again begins to thicken slightly, allowing the sauce or dressing to adhere to the food, such as salad or pasta.

In frozen foods, xanthan gum creates the palatable feel of the food to the mouth. Along with guar gum and locust bean gum, it helps create the smooth texture of ice creams. It is also used to replace the fatty texture of egg yolks in many egg substitutes.

This gum is often used by those who are allergic to wheat or prefer gluten-free products as an addition to gluten-free flour. It will help give the dough or batter a sticky consistency that would normally be achieved with gluten.

Many people still question the safety of xanthan gum because it is a food additive. It is considered to be safe because it is a natural carbohydrate that is not absorbed into the body. Some people with food allergies may be sensitive to the product, however, and it can cause headaches, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Other "gums," such as guar gum, carrageenan, and locust bean gum, can be substituted if needed.

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serenesurface
Post 8

Has anyone experienced a laxative effect from xanthan gum?

Whenever I eat something with this ingredient, it has a laxative effect on me.

ddljohn
Post 7

@ysmina-- It might not be necessary but it works really well to thicken liquids up.

It's also good for those who cannot eat eggs and gluten. It's really hard to keep something like cake mix together when you don't have these two ingredients in it. So in their absence, you can use a little bit of xanthan gum to keep the mixture together.

It may not be a necessary ingredient for you. But it is for people who want to continue to eat certain foods without these ingredients.

ysmina
Post 6

Xanthan gum might be one hundred percent safe, but is it really necessary?

What's the problem if the oil in your salad dressing floats to the top? All you have to do is shake it before you use it.

I don't understand why we need to put an additional ingredient in there to keep the ingredients together. When I was growing up, no one even gave a second thought to something like that. Oil and vinegar separate when mixed, so what?!

visionary
Post 5

@donna61--The only time xanthan gum could be called organic would be if the corn used to make it is certified organic with no GMOs. You can look for this at your local organic food store. People who are allergic to corn, even organic, might have a reaction to it, so they could use one of the alternatives, again looking for certified organic.

donna61
Post 4

Does anyone know if there is an organic xanthan gum? If so where would I buy it? Thanks

flowerchild
Post 3

@anon76761--The best way to mix xanthan gum with soy milk is in the blender. You would mix the soy milk and any other ingredients together and once blending add the xanthan gum. There are a lot of xanthan gum recipes online if you are wanting to make deserts or drinks using soy milk.

anon76761
Post 2

how do i incorporate my xanthan gum into my soymilk.

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